In preparation for this Sunday’s Liturgy, spend some time today and during this week preparing with this lectio divina meditation on the Identity of Christ and the Conditions of Discipleship. This week’s Gospel reading is Luke 9:18-24 including Peter’s Confession about Jesus, the First Prediction of the Passion, and the Conditions of Discipleship. Follow this four step lectio divina process, taken from Pope Benedict’s Verbum Domini, in your meditation on the Gospel.
Read June 23rd’s Sunday’s Gospel and proceed through each step of the lectio divina process below.
What does this passage say that everyone should understand?
One clear theme throughout the Gospels is the gradual unfolding and realization of the identity of Jesus. Here at the center of the Gospel of Luke, a key turning point has occured. Jesus’ true identity is revealed through Simon Peter’s confession and in response Jesus unveils the coming Paschal Mystery (his passion, death, and resurrection).
Up to this point in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus had been a healer, a teacher, and a miracle-worker, but who did the people think that he was?
Some thought he was John the Baptist, who we know had a large following at the time of Jesus’ ministry.
Some thought he was the prophet Elijah, who was taken up into heaven by God. Many people at the time of Jesus felt Elijah would return from heaven. And they thought that if he wasn’t Elijah, then surely he must be some other prophet risen from the dead.
But, of course, Jesus was none of these people. He turned to his disciples and asked, “Who do you say that I am?”
Peter’s reply: “The Messiah of God.”
Messiah means “anointed one.” The Greek word for Messiah is Christos (Christ). Believe it or not, “Christ” is not Jesus’ last name. It is a title, an identity, which says something about his mission and purpose.
Nobody really knew what the Messiah would do when he came, but they new it would be incredibly importand and life-changing. The prophets made that clear. Just to clarify things, Jesus identifies himself as the Son of Man who will suffer and be rejected by their religious leaders. He’s more than a prophetic voice telling people how they should turn their lives around.
But today’s passage doesn’t stop there. Jesus goes on. He assures his disciples that not only will he suffer and be rejected, but they must suffer also. All disciples must take up their own personal crosses, denying their own desires and needs, and follow Christ.
Want to save your life? Lose it. In fact, lose it for Christ and your life will be saved.
What does the text say to me, today, and to my life?
For today’s lectio divina meditation on Jesus’ identity and the conditions of discipleship, reflect on the following:
- What part of this passage is the hardest for you to read? Stay with those words or sentences for a few moments. Why are they so challenging for you to read today and in your life?
- What if Jesus asked you this question at this very moment: “Who do you say that I am?” How would you answer?
- Jesus suffered greatly and was rejected by those who needed him the most. How does that make you feel? Are you grateful for what he did? Are you angry at the chief priests and scribes?
What can I say to the Lord in response to his word?
Consider the following suggestions for your conversation with the Lord:
- Jesus has asked you, “Who do you say that I am?” Imagine Jesus sitting or standing before you. These very words come out of his mouth. They are directed at you. Respond. What else will he say? Will he affirm your response? Will he correct it?
- Jesus suffered physical pain and emotional rejection all for you. What can you say in response to this incredible gift?
- Imagine Peter is there with you during this conversation. What might he say to you as well?
- When you read this passage and meditated on it, did it make you think of something in your life right now that needs changing? What part of your life are you holding on to? What are you afraid to give to the Lord? Tell him why it scares you. Tell him why it is so important to you. See what he says to you.
What conversion of the mind, heart, and life is the Lord asking of me?
Reflect on the following recognizing the need to be changed by God’s grace:
- Is my understanding of Jesus’ identity in need of some change? Do I recognize him as the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One, the Suffering Son of Man, or do I see him merely as prophet?
- What part of my life am I afraid to lose? What am I holding on to? What will I lose for the sake of Jesus?
- Is there a cross in my life that I need to bear today? Have I embraced it? What can I do to take up that cross in a whole new way today, this week, and in the weeks and months ahead.
Remember none of these changes in your life occur without God’s grace. He doesn’t ask us to carry our crosses alone. He gives us the strength and promises us that the losses we feel will, in fact, be the only way to save the life we are meant to live.
(image credit: mugley)